Focused only on facials, Skoah debuted in 2001 in Vancouver’s Yaletown district. Although owners Chris and Andrea Scott didn’t have any previous spa experience, they didn’t let that stop them from creating the type of experience they thought customers craved. Their initial Skoah tagline was “No whale music, no bubbling cherubs, no pretentious attitudes.” As a result, the first Skoah location ended up appealing to people who had never been to a spa before. The Scotts had the foresight to hire a chemist to develop a product line guided by customers’ needs and desires. Andrea also returned to school to become a certified makeup artist and developed a makeup line to accompany the Skoah skincare line. The brand has since expanded to locations in Boston, Calgary, and Seattle, and another location is slated for Toronto later this year. “In the past five years, we’ve expanded from three locations to 17,” says Andrea. “Since launching our franchise opportunity in July, we’ve signed two deals and have eight more pending, which we expect to close in the next six weeks.” Here, Andrea shares how Skoah is paving its way to success, one facial at a time.
Skoah debuted in 2001 in Vancouver’s Yaletown district.
To what do you attribute Skoah’s success?
I attribute our success to being relentlessly passionate and disciplined about our company’s core values. This extends to our in-store experiences, our internal communication and interactions, and now our franchisee selection process. As the cofounder and CEO, I visit every location and meet with every crew member to explain why our core values are what they are and what that means for them as a member of the Skoah family. I believe that instilling listening to understand, loving what you do, and all of our core values into each crew member is why each location sees great success.
Likewise, we have been disciplined about sticking to what we are best in the world at—facials only and honing our craft. Where estheticians at a general spa may do five to seven facials a month, our skincare trainers are doing about four a day. Plus, we make incredible products that use some of the best ingredients out there. This commitment to quality pays off in products that do what they say they will do.
Where did the name Skoah originate?
The name doesn’t have a specific meaning and that was intentional. We didn’t want the name to remind anyone of anything. We wanted it to mean the best facial place! But the word definitely has some inspiration from the words spa, skin, ahhhh, and our last name is Scott. Interestingly, I received an email this week from someone asking if it would be okay to name their soon to be born son Skoah. We also have a customer in Calgary who named her dog Skoah. So the name resonates in so many ways.
Why do you think the business has been able to succeed where others have failed?
Well, there are now many single-service concepts out there. What we do differently is facials. There are really very few places that focus on this and no one I know that has scaled and married a product line alongside it as an imperative part of the process. The other factor is that products are about 50 percent of our revenue. So that adds a compelling revenue stream that may not be as substantial in some of the other single-service options out there that may not sell a product as easily.
How do you attract new and repeat clients?
This is actually why we want to grow via a franchise model. Our success in markets we know and where we live has been from understanding our communities and connecting with them. Franchise owners who are well connected and keen on community building are exactly who we are looking for to build out Skoah as a national brand. We believe we have a massive opportunity in front of us and have never been more excited about Skoah’s future. As for getting clients to come in repeatedly, Skoah is a membership-based model, so many of our guests come every month. Just like people get their nails done every couple of weeks, get a blowout often, or a monthly massage, a monthly facial is an easily adoptable and extremely practical habit.
Skoah at Capitol Hill location in Seattle features a design aesthetic that encourages guests to browse the retail products on display.
How do you use digital marketing and social media?
We love to share the stories of our crew and of our customers and really open the door to understanding the approachability of our company. We want people to feel welcome and comfortable, and I think our social media reflects this. We also love to include a few tongue-in-cheek references to make people smile.
How do you keep the treatment menu fresh and relevant?
Every facial at Skoah is customized, so this really keeps things changing. One of our core values is to create a new experience every time. This resonates in every touchpoint at Skoah. Finally, we have feature facials throughout the year and have fun with seasonal products and features of each facial. Members also get a monthly member-only product gift as a part of their membership. These are usually items we make only for members so they’re not available to buy. This makes things very fun.
How do you keep your staff motivated to sell?
Our team is very focused on selling skincare products, because they see the results when customers return. We share so much of the product-development process with our staff and franchisees so they can easily and clearly educate our customers. Selling is probably just the natural outcome of this.
What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced in growing the business?
The biggest challenge to date has been figuring out how to grow the business to maintain our values and culture. Now that we have started franchising, I feel like we’ve landed on the perfect path.
What are your future plans?
We want to open 250 stores in the next five years.